The authors sought to assess the utility of arterial spin labeling (ASL) perfusion 3T-MRI for the presurgical evaluation of poorly defined focal epilepsy in pediatric patients.
Pseudocontinuous ASL perfusion 3T-MRI was performed in 25 consecutive children with poorly defined focal epilepsy. ASL perfusion abnormalities were detected qualitatively by visual inspection and quantitatively by calculating asymmetry index (AI) maps and significant z-score cluster maps based on successfully operated cases. ASL results were prospectively compared to scalp EEG, structural 3T-MRI, FDG-PET, ictal/interictal SPECT, magnetoencephalography (MEG), and intracranial recording results, as well as the final surgically proven epileptogenic zone (EZ) in operated patients who had at least 1 year of good (Engel class I/II) seizure outcome and positive histopathology results.
Qualitative ASL perfusion abnormalities were found in 17/25 cases (68%), specifically in 17/20 MRI-positive cases (85.0%) and in none of the 5 MRI-negative cases. ASL was concordant with localizing scalp EEG findings in 66.7%, structural 3T-MRI in 90%, FDG-PET in 75%, ictal/interictal SPECT in 62.5%, and MEG in 75% of cases, and with intracranial recording results in 40% of cases. Eleven patients underwent surgery; in all 11 cases the EZ was surgically proven by positive histopathology results and the patient having at least 1 year of good seizure outcome. ASL results were concordant with this final surgically proven EZ in 10/11 cases (sensitivity 91%, specificity 50%). All 10 ASL-positive patients who underwent surgery had positive surgical pathology results and good long-term postsurgical seizure outcome at a mean follow-up of 39 months. Retrospective quantitative analysis based on significant z-score clusters found 1 true-positive result that was missed by qualitative analysis and 3 additional false-positive results (sensitivity 100%, specificity 23%).
ASL supports the hypothesis regarding the EZ in poorly defined focal epilepsy cases in children. Due to its convenience and noninvasive nature, the authors recommend that ASL be added routinely to the presurgical MRI evaluation of epilepsy. Future optimized quantitative methods may improve the diagnostic yield of this technique.